It’s fitting that just as the Fall 2018 ready-to-wear collections were coming to an end, celebrations around the world for International Women’s Day were starting. This was the first women’s season since the Time’s Up movement began, and it has affected designers and fashion labels, just as it has makers and companies in other industries. Issues of safety and protection on the one hand, and inclusion, acceptance, and diversity on the other are dominating the cultural conversation, and fashion’s most intuitive talents are picking up on it. We could fight the power—and the apocalypse—in Raf Simons’s Mylar and hazmat gear for Calvin Klein . . . and face down all manner of social adversity in Rio Uribe’s DIY blazers, cargos, and deconstructed denim at Gypsy Sport. Marine Serre, the Paris upstart who nabbed last year’s LVMH Prize, tackled these topics with conviction and eloquence, and addressed the pressing subject of sustainability too, via fabulous dresses pieced together from upcycled scarves. For me, hers was the show of the season—conceptual and commercial in exactly the right combination to make the spine tingle.
Donatella Versace, Sacai’s Chitose Abe, and Simone Rocha, though they are at different stages in their careers, are three women utterly in command of their brands. Coming off the Spring 2018 tribute to her late brother Gianni, Donatella has never been better, capitalizing on the skyrocketing interest in archival Versace prints and pumping up the glam factor. The hybrids Sacai’s Abe pioneered years ago are the sine qua non of fashion today, but hers remain more convincing than anybody else’s. And for feminist femininity, as my Vogue colleague Sarah Mower has dubbed it, Rocha is London’s go-to girl.
This was also the season that activism took the fashion spotlight. There will be naysayers who pooh-pooh the brands who tout their good works, the thinking being it’s more dignified to keep big and little acts of compassion private. On the contrary, it’s essential for design leaders to be thought leaders in 2018, and as Gen Zers turn ever more away from consumerism and towards altruism, it will only become more so. So, let’s cheer Gucci, Burberry, and Balenciaga, who have promised large donations to March for Our Lives, international LGBTQ+ charities, and the World Food Programme, respectively. Their actions will precipitate a groundswell of fashionable good deeds, I feel sure of it.
Paco Rabanne and Loewe are on our list because they represent exactly how the women here at Vogue want to dress now: effortlessly, yet artfully, in comfortably statement-making shoes and with a killer bag. We would also very much like one of Karl Lagerfeld’s beaded evening puffers for Chanel; in a season of statement coats, his will top many a list.
And since today is International Women’s Day, here’s a plug for Vogue’s American Women: Transformers portfolio, a beautiful-to-look-at and inspiring-to-read collection of stories about women in all walks of life making change happen.